A Quiet Belief in Angels – 4th Sept ’10

…. A Quiet Belief in Angels.


I don’t know if I believe in ghosts. I’m not sure if there is life on other planets, or if conspiracy theories are real, or just something to give office workers (like me!) something to talk about with people we see too much of day to day. I’m not sure I believe in ‘White Noise’ or ‘ESP’ or even having your palm read. On the other hand, I pretty much WANT to believe in luck, I’m fairly certain I believe in fate…… and I’m DAMN sure I believe in Angels.

I believe in angels in a grounded way. I don’t believe we see them except in our head, our heart and our memory. I believe there are times they come to us, sometimes just to nudge us not to forget. Sometimes it seems, just to reopen a half healing wound, but always just to have us think about them and what they were to us…. what they ARE to us.

Jadey was our picking up queen. Dylan had the strength. Deeds had the reliable steadiness. Mallie had the drive and enthusiasm and raw talent….. but Jade had the self control, the solid determination never to let anything get lost, the will of steel to get the job done even when it went against every one of her ‘safety first’ life rules. Jade thought like a wounded bird. That is not an exaggeration. You could put her after a runner and walk back to the game cart and pour a coffee, she didn’t need help from us. If she didn’t find it, it wasn’t hit. If she didn’t find it, there wasn’t any point looking (although many tried…. smile….)

There are certain dogs you know when they are beside you will make you look good as a handler. Jade was one of them. Out picking up. She lacked a bit of speed and style to be a regular test winning dog (although she got many awards, and finally, a few months before we lost her, her win…). She enjoyed the trials she ran in but never set the world on fire, but that was because her forte was saving the day. Finding the last bird in a wood. Moving at a slow gallop, steadying to a slow canter to hunt, long legs covering ground easily, brain problem solving…. and I swear remembering, always remembering where the last runner was found, and checking *there* first, then working ‘backwards’….

Angels don’t always have a halo  ;-)  She wasn’t flawless in the formal gundog sense of the word. Only a deaf man could say they had never heard a fustrated squeak out of her, when she saw something hit the ground and run, but we were NOT covering that gun. Jadey rarely raised her voice about ANYTHING. But I do recall one occasion when she broke that self made rule and practically BELLOWED across the field at some young upstart making a pigs ear of getting on a runner…… ‘”You are RUBBISH, you hopeless IDIOT! It went in THERE!!! ” … and proceeding to ‘run in’ at a great rate of knots to where it HAD, indeed, gone in, re-emerging, two minutes later with the bird, whilst the young dog still refused to cross the stream!

Did she ever swap birds…? Well I know she tried her heart out to bring me TWO back at the same time on several occasions (succeeding once, to much hilarity around me and a slightly less humourous smile from me knowing she had a trial the next week…..!)

How will I feel when we step out on the first drive on October 23rd without her. The shoot she has been on since she was a year old. She hardly missed a drive in that time, save one year when puppies overlapped just slightly, but then she was back out the week after they left by public demand!

Jadey wouldn’t have turned heads on a grouse moor. She wouldn’t have troubled the top end when they saw her name on a novice trial card of runners. She was showbred, but developed the ability to throw that coat off and be so utterly good at her job, on a small shoot, that even the guns who didn’t care remotely for dogs, knew her, and appreciated her, and suggested she was sent for their lost birds…. and sent cards when we lost her. On a small shoot birds are possibly even MORE precious, every single one, and it was a testamount to her that everyone trusted her.

When I think about this, fast approaching, season. I think about Allan trialing Fish. I think about how and when to introduce Bondy to game, I think about how to get Tom up to speed…..I think about so many things… I love the shooting season, if I could do only one dog *thing* it would be pick up….. but, mostly, I think about Jadey. Its natural. Dylan was my best friend in the world and his loss at nearly 15, was hard to accept, but it was comforting to know he walked the full nine miles of his life, there was nothing he didn’t do, or missed out on, or didn’t achieve. Jadey has been snatched from me when I least expected it. I had the security of at least five or six more years with her, at least four of those, I hoped, doing what she loved out shooting.  But you never know do you…. thats my – probably believed in – ‘Mr Fate’ for you.

So when I think of angels, I quietly believe in the fact that Jadey will be there. At 9am, on Newhouse Farm Shoot, amid the terriers stalking one another and pegs being drawn, and boots being pulled on, quad and game cart being reversed into the yard scattering spaniels, hugs and hello’s, talk of the weather, banter about what partridge days they’ve had in the run up…… She won’t float like an angel in a childrens book, she will be in my heart, tucked in tight, stopping me crying, possibly not stopping the lump in my throat from forming, but stopping me missing her. Because how can you miss something thats right there with you…. ?

Jadey – Business as usual – nailing a runner:


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